Okolona student brings gun to school

By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal

OKOLONA – A .38-cal., revolver was taken off an Okolona School District student Wednesday and school officials say they plan to prosecute the individual to the fullest extent of the law.
Teachers at Okolona High School were made aware a 14-year-old student possibly had a weapon shortly after lunch and police were called immediately.
The student was separated from the student population and a search turned up the weapon.
“As soon as our staff became aware of the situation we called authorities and began the process of determining if that was the case,” said Okolona School District Conservator and Interim Superintendent Mike Vinson. “The student was called to the office and we asked to search of his backpack. The gun was found in a shoe in his backpack.”
Vinson said the student was immediately taken into custody by the Okolona Police Department and removed from school.
“Bringing a weapon to school is a felony and is punishable by up to 5-years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine,” said Vinson. “We plan to pursue this to the fullest extent possible.”
Mississippi law mandates a student who brings a weapon to school be expelled under the “zero tolerance” statute. Superintendents are allowed to intervene if they feel the case merits it.
“A hearing on this will be held as soon as possible to see if there is cause to remove this student from the district,” said Vinson.
Vinson said the gun was never brandished and no one at the school was ever threatened with the weapon.
“This student just transferred to our district a couple of weeks ago,” said Vinson. “I don’t know what his motive might have been to bring a weapon to school.”
Vinson said this is the first incident where a gun was brought to Okolona Schools since the state named him conservator of the district in March 2010.
“I firmly believe our schools are safe,” said Vinson. “I think the parents, teachers and our administrators would not want our schools to be any other way.
“I regret that this happened but I hope people will see our our students, teachers, principal and police department responded well,” he added. “We are pleased the incident was resolved without anyone being hurt.”
Vinson said schools were not locked down since the student was disarmed so quickly.
Calls to Okolona Police Chief Tommy Ivy were not returned Wednesday afternoon.
The youth will probably be taken to the Chickasaw County Jail and either be held in a special juvenile holding facility there or sent to Lee County’s juvenile detention center to await a hearing.